| The scientist who gave the Water Oppossum its first scientific name, in 1780, thought it was a new kind of otter and named it Lutra minima. When it proved to be a marsupial, a swimming marsupial with a pouch, it was renamed and given a genus all its own. Both males and females have pouches. The female can close hers tightly enough to dive and swim with her litter of 2 to 5 young in it, safe and dry.
Water Opossums have large, webbed hind feet and long "fingers" on their front paws with which to grab their prey. They catch frogs, crustaceans, insects, and even fish. Rough pads on their fingers help them hold onto slippery prey. They are always found near water, and will often dive to escape danger. They dig burrows on the banks of streams, sometimes with an underwater entrance, and hollow out a dry nest chamber within.
Total Length: 645-745 mm; Head and Body: 270-400 mm; Tail: 310-430 mm (Tail longer than head and body)
Zimmermann, E.A.W., 1780. Geographische Geschichte des Menschen, Weygandschen Buchhandlung, Leipzig, 1783, 2:317.
Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).
Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account * (opens in a new window).
* PDF reader available here (opens in a new window).